Government warned of looming building-control collapse

A significant number of councils will stop offering building-control services from April unless the deadline to prove professional competence is extended, the head of the service has warned the government.

From 6 April, all building-control professionals must have passed a competence assessment and be registered with the Building Safety Regulator, which is part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In a dramatic intervention, the chief executive of Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Lorna Stimpson has sent a crisis plea to the HSE, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Welsh Government.

In a letter, she warned that many building-control professionals would not achieve certification before the deadline, leaving “a significant number of authorities” in England and Wales unable to perform building control.

Stimpson wrote: “Our legal advice indicates that, without appropriate registered professionals, local authorities will cease to be able to undertake a building-control function post 6 April.”

The impact on a local authority of being without registered building inspections would “have a wide-ranging effect on the construction industry, consumers, regulatory enforcement and compliance”, she added.

She said that the profession had not been given enough time to understand the new requirements, with many surveyors having not yet applied to the register or signed up for competence testing.

“LABC is undertaking an urgent review of the position of all local authorities in England and Wales to determine their position with regards to the number of surveyors likely to be certified and registered prior to the deadline –the picture does not currently look encouraging,” Simpson said.

The first independent assessor bodies, the Building Safety Competence Foundation (a subsidiary of LABC) and the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE), were announced last July, while Total Training & Development Ltd subsequently became the third. The BSR register opened in October.

Stimpson wrote that these assessment bodies were reaching “crisis point”, affecting staff’s mental health.

She said that the 6 April deadline was causing a “critical level of stress in the building control profession”.

“We have already started to see an exodus from the profession of the vital expertise that we need in the coming months as part of the new regime – this in itself is adding to already-increased workloads for a severely limited number of building-control professionals,” she said.

“We are hearing worrying reports of individuals in crisis, suffering extreme stress, anxiety and depression.”

Stimpson urged the HSE, DLUHC and the Welsh government to delay the deadline for competence assessment by six months, to ensure a smooth transition.

She proposed that building surveyors would instead commit to abiding by the BSR’s codes of conduct from 6 April and be registered with an independent assessment scheme, working towards certification before the later deadline.

Construction News understands that LABC has so far not received a response to its proposal for a delay.

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